Gold & Silver Daily

Ed's Critical Reads

Jul 26, 2014

Q2 Closes With A Durable Goods Whimper And 1.6% Y/Y Drop; Core Capex Orders Revised Much Lower; Shipments Tumble

After tumbling in May by 1.0% which was the biggest drop since the dreaded "polar vortex", Durable goods in June posted a modest pick up in June rising 0.7%, driven by yet another surge in aircraft and parts which rose by 8.2% for Non-defense aircraft and 15.3% for defense (thank you Russia). And while this beat expectations of a 0.5% increase, it was the first Y/Y drop in Durable goods since February (and since 2013 if one uses unrevised data).

Excluding volatile transportation, Durable Goods rose by 0.8%, also beating the expected 0.5% print, and higher than last month's 0.1%. Still, the Y/Y change in the category is hardly indicative of sustainable growth in manufacturing production, and certainly smashes any of the ISM and Markit PMI manufacturing surveys indicating an epic renaissance in U.S. production.

This interesting Zero Hedge commentary, with some excellent charts, was posted on their website at 8:57 a.m. EDT Friday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it along.

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Money Manager Sanford: 'Stay Out of Money Market Funds' After SEC Rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved rule changes for money-market funds this week — some good and some bad, says James Sanford, a portfolio manager for Sag Harbor Advisors.

On the good side, the SEC now requires a floating net asset value rather than a fixed $1.00 par value for the funds, he writes on CNBC.com.

"However, the other proposed change, which would allow money managers to suspend redemptions by investors or charge them fees to redeem during volatile periods, is a travesty."

This short article was posted on the moneynews.com Internet site at 10:22 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.

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Record Student-Loan Debt Prompts Treasury Push to Stem Defaults

The U.S. Treasury, which finances more than 90 percent of new student loans, is exploring ways to make repayment more affordable as defaults by almost 7 million Americans and other strapped borrowers restrain economic growth.

Leading the effort is Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, who became the department’s No. 2 official in March after more than three years as a Federal Reserve governor. As higher-education debt swells to a record $1.2 trillion, Raskin, 53, is alert to parallels to the mortgage crisis.

Raskin has reason to worry: Most of those loans are backed by the federal government. In addition to trying to facilitate stronger growth, she’s focusing on the impact such debt has on government’s financing needs and ways to improve servicing and collection.

This news item was posted on the Bloomberg website at 10:00 p.m. Denver time on Wednesday evening---and it's the second offering in a row from Elliot Simon.

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In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.

“I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.

Where have we seen this picture before, dear reader?  This article appeared on The New York Times website a week ago, but for length reasons---and it is a looong read---it had to wait for my Saturday column.  It's the first offering of many from Roy Stephens.

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Don’t Tell Anybody About This Story on HFT Power Jump Trading

Far from Wall Street in a Chicago neighborhood once synonymous with urban blight, two futures industry veterans are using secrecy and speed to mint fortunes.

Their firm, Jump Trading LLC, was all but invisible until it was among six companies subpoenaed in April by New York prosecutors. Jump has ascended the ranks of high-frequency traders during the past 15 years to become one of the top firms on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where $925 trillion of derivatives changed hands last year. Its annual revenue has exceeded half a billion dollars.

The company was founded by traders Bill DiSomma and Paul Gurinas, whose level heads caused them to stand out in the cacophony of a Chicago trading floor. Today, the pair parcel money among 20 or so teams, each guarding its computer models from the others to trade stocks, bonds and commodities with strategies that go almost as fast as light.

This longish Bloomberg article showed up on their Internet site at 5:01 p.m. MDT on Wednesday---and also for length reasons, had to wait for today's column.  It's the third contribution of the day from Elliot Simon.

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Sprott Money Weekly Wrap Up

Eric's weekly commentary also contains a lot of gold-related information as well.  This audio interview runs for 6:05 minutes---and was posted on the sprottmoney.com Internet site on Friday afternoon.

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Doug Noland: Bubbles and Schemes

Perhaps it’s coincidence that the ECB is commencing a major new liquidity operation just as the Fed’s QE winds down. Clearly, the “Draghi plan” to bolster fragile European peripheral debt markets should be viewed as a sophisticated financial scheme. Thus far, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) shows no indication that its “money” printing scheme is ending anytime soon. And despite all the talk that the Chinese were serious about financial and economic reform, they apparently took one alarming look at rapidly unfolding systemic fragilities and opted to let their historic Bubble run. The Chinese Bubble is a government-dictated financial scheme of epic proportions.

So it’s become an equally fascinating and alarming global dynamic: a multifaceted global scheme to support inflated securities markets and a grossly maladjusted global economic structure. Worse yet, it’s a global scheme held together by various governments that are increasingly engaged in heated geopolitical strife. In the end, “Ponzi Finance” financial schemes boil down to games of confidence.

Doug's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin is always a must read for me---and his Friday evening missive over at the prudentbear.com Internet site is no exception.

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Fourteen YEAR drought leaves Lake Mead at all-time low

Drought in the southwestern U.S. will deplete the vast Lake Mead this week to levels not seen since Hoover Dam was completed and the reservoir on the Colorado River was filled in the 1930s, federal water managers said Tuesday.

The projected lake level of about 1,080 feet above sea level will be below the level of about 1,082 feet recorded in November 2010 and the 1,083-foot mark measured in April 1956 during another sustained drought.

But U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional chief Terry Fulp said water obligations will be met at least through next year without a key shortage declaration. The result will be full deliveries to cities, states, farms and Indian tribes in an area that's home to some 40 million people and the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

I posted a story about this more than a week ago, but this photo essay that showed up on the dailymail.co.uk Internet site on July 15 is first rate---and is worth your time.  I thank William Gebhardt for sending it our way last Sunday.

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IMF fears ultra-low rates are fuelling asset bubbles

Ultra-low interest rates around the world are fuelling financial bubbles and pushing investors into overvalued assets, the International Monetary Fund has warned in a marked shift of policy.

“Financial markets have been very optimistic in recent months. Frankly, we’re seeing some prices that are very high compared with what is happening the real economy,” said Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, the fund’s deputy director.

“We don’t think there is a generalised bubble but this is something we have to watch closely. In a world of very low interest rates there is an incentive to take on risk and hunt for yield, and that can lead to excesses,” he said.

Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, said the fund is now watching financial markets “like a hawk” but said the world economy is still too fragile to withstand the introduction of tighter monetary policy. “The first line of defence should be macro-prudential tools; slowing down the housing market for example. The recovery is not very strong and really needs to be nurtured,” he said.

The IMF, ECB, BoJ---and the Fed are powerless to do anything.  After having painted Planet Earth into an economic, financial and monetary corner for the last couple of generations they, like us, can only stand by and wait for the whole thing to implode---which it will.  This Ambrose Evans-Pritchard commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 6:07 a.m. BST on Thursday morning---and it's the second story of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Number of French Jobless Rises to New Record

The number of people without a job in France rose in June to yet another record in the latest blow to President Francois Hollande's efforts to get unemployment falling.

The Labour Ministry said the jobless total in mainland France rose by 9,400 last month to 3,398,300, up 0.3 percent over one month and 4.0 percent over one year.

Hollande has seen his popularity collapse to record lows for a French president as he failed to live up to promises to get unemployment declining.

The Socialist leader is counting on plans to phase out 30 billion euros ($40.29 billion) in payroll tax on companies to get them investing and hiring.

This Zero Hedge piece, based on a Reuters story, showed up on their Internet site at 12:25 p.m. EDT on Friday afternoon---and I thank reader M.A. for his second offering in today's column.

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Europe Unveils Preliminary Sanctions Against Russia

While the preliminary terms of Europe's Russian sanctions were leaked on Thursday, moments ago it was reported that E.U. ambassadors have reached an agreement on what the "hard-hitting" economic sanctions against Russia would look like even as details remain to still be ironed out ahead of a formal announcement of the final terms next week. According to Reuters, key measures suggested by the Commission include: 1] closing EU capital markets to state-owned Russian banks,2] an embargo on arms sales to Moscow, 3] restrictions on the supply of energy and dual-use technologies, and 4] a list of 15 individuals and 18 entities, including companies, subject to asset freezes for their role in supporting Russia's annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine.

Of course, since France would blow a gasket if its Mistral ship was impacted by the sanctions, and since this really is just another populist measure not intended to really punish Russia (as that would mean a prompt shut off of European gas and an even prompter slide into a triple dip recession if not outright depression), Europe promptly "detoothed" the sanctions by announcing that they would not affect current supplies of oil, gas and other commodities from Russia, diplomats said.

This news item, also based on a Reuters story, appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:27 a.m. EDT on Friday---and I thank reader M.A. for sharing it with us as well.  There's also an Ambrose Evans-Pritchard take on the sanctions story---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.  The headline reads "Proposed E.U. sanctions threaten to shut Russia out of the world financial system".  The euobserver.com website had a story on this as well.  It bears the title "E.U. to hit Russia with economic sanctions next week".  This is also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Canada sanctions Russian energy sector

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new sanctions targeting the Russian energy sector in response to the Kremlin's pressure on Ukraine.

Harper announced sanctions against 10 separate Russian entities, including Russian independent gas company Novatek and Gazprombank, the financial arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom.

The prime minister said the sanctions were meant as a response to Russia's occupation of the Crimean region in Ukraine and its military action in eastern Ukraine.

Nothing proves that Canada [via Stephen Harper] has sold out to the U.S. lock, stock and barrel, more than this piece of rubbish/propaganda that showed up on the upi.com Internet site yesterday.  I'm embarrassed to call myself Canadian.  It's another article from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine votes to keep Western companies out of gas industry

Ukraine’s parliament has rejected allowing E.U. and U.S. companies to buy up to 49 percent of oil and gas company Naftogaz, and also said they were against liquidating the national energy monopoly.

Kiev rejected splitting the company in two, a measure encouraged by the West in order for Naftogaz to comply with Europe’s third energy package, which doesn’t allow one single company to both produce and transport oil and gas.

The bill proposed creating two new joint stock companies in order to conform to the package, “Ukraine's Main Gas Transmission” and “Ukraine's Underground Storages.”

This Russia Today article appeared on their Internet site at 12:11 p.m. Moscow time on Friday---and credit goes to Roy Stephens once again.

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Catastrophic Desertions and Losses in the Ukrainian Army - Official Ukrainian Reports, July 19, 2014

It is rare that we report on the workings of the aggressor across the battle lines. This item is different. Before you is a translation, kindly prepared by Valentina Lisitsa, of a report from the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, V.O. Nalyvaichenko, to the President of Ukraine, P.A. Poroshenko. It is an important document, which, we hope, you will distribute widely.

No further commentary is necessary, other than the following brief quotation. According to V.O. Nalyvaichenko, "2/3 of the active combat military units currently participating in the ATO will simply cease to exist in as little as 4 to 5 days" due to mass desertions and casualties. To provide context for this letter, provided below is another document recently publicized as an internal memorandum from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, which details recent casualties of the Ukrainian army, equally as catastrophic as its desertion rates.

This very interesting news item [if true] appeared on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca Internet site yesterday---and I thank reader Nick Ferris for bringing it to our attention.

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Russia transfer of rocket system to Ukraine rebels imminent - Pentagon

The Pentagon said on Friday the transfer of heavy-caliber multiple-launch rocket systems from Russia to Ukrainian separatists appeared to be imminent with the arms close enough to the border they could be handed over "potentially today."

"We have indications that the Russians intend to supply heavier and more sophisticated multiple-launch rocket systems in the very near future," said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, adding that the weapons were in the over-200mm range.

Warren indicated the weapons had been seen getting closer to the border and the Pentagon believed a transfer was imminent and could happen "potentially today."

"We believe that they are able to transfer this equipment at any time, at any moment," he said.

The western main stream media is sinking to a new low just about every day.  This breathless propaganda/warmongering piece, filed from Washington, showed up on the reuters.com Internet site at 2:01 p.m. EDT yesterday---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

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Over 40 mortar shells ‘fired to kill’ into Russia from Ukraine

At least 45 mortar shells fired at targets located inside the Rostov-on-Don region have been unleashed by Ukraine’s army, Russia’s border officials said. The barrage destroyed multiple houses and forced an evacuation of civilians.

Investigators say they were examining the site of a previous shelling near the Primiusskiy hamlet right on the southwestern edge of Russia on Wednesday, when a cannonade went off from the other side of the border.

“There is no doubt that those shooting from the Ukrainian side picked their target, and tried to kill Russian security officials,” said Investigative Committee representative Vladimir Markin.

This news item put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 5:31 p.m. Moscow time on Friday---and it's another story from Roy S.

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Shell Leaves Business Strategy for Russia Unchanged Despite Sanctions

British oil giant is determined to continue its work in Russia and will not change its business strategy in the country, despite the sanctions imposed against Moscow by the United States and European Union, representative of Shell’s press service told RIA Novosti on Friday.

“Shell continues to run business in Russia both in the upstream and downstream without any changes. We monitor the situation regarding the sanctions. But so far there have been no changes in either the business itself or in the business strategy,” the source said.

This interesting article was posted on the RIA Novosti Internet site at 7:45 p.m. Moscow time on Friday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Russia takes aim at McDonald's burgers as U.S. ties worsen

McDonald's burgers and shakes may become the latest victims of worsening ties between Moscow and Washington after a Russian consumer watchdog agency accused the U.S. chain of sanitary violations.

McDonald's Corp, which opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow in 1990, became an iconic symbol of flourishing American capitalism during the fall of the Soviet Union.

But its Golden Arches may be in the Kremlin's crosshairs as ties between Moscow and Washington have fallen to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War with consecutive rounds of U.S. sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.

"We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald's chain in doubt," Anna Popova, the watchdog's head and Russia's chief sanitary inspector, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

This Reuters news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on their Internet site at 11:19 a.m. EDT on Friday---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Washington is Escalating the Orchestrated Ukrainian “Crisis” to War — Paul Craig Roberts

Despite the conclusion by U.S. intelligence that there is no evidence of Russian involvement in the destruction of the Malaysian airliner and all lives on board, Washington is escalating the crisis and shepherding it toward war.

Twenty-two U.S. senators have introduced into the 113th Congress, Second Session, a bill, S.2277, “To prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.” The bill is before the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Note that prior to any evidence of any Russian aggression, there are already 22 senators lined up in behalf of preventing further Russian aggression.

Accompanying this preparatory propaganda move to create a framework for war, hot or cold with Russia, NATO commander General Philip Breedlove announced his plan for a deployment of massive military means in Eastern Europe that would permit lightening responses against Russia in order to protect Europe from Russian aggression.---and there we have it again: Russian Aggression. Repeat it enough and it becomes real.

This must read commentary put in an appearance on Paul's website on Thursday---and my thank go out to reader M.A. for bringing it to my attention, and now to yours.

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An Unprecedented Look Inside Iran From a Getty Photographer

Ever since Getty photographer John Moore visited Iran 10 years ago to cover parliamentary elections in Tehran, he's had an itch to experience the country behind the headlines. He finally got his chance this past June when he was approved to tour the country on a one-week trip from Shiraz to Tehran.

Mostly free from the constraints of traditional news — he did happen to document the 25th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini along the way — Moore visited Iran’s most prominent cities, monuments, and squares for a look at the everyday life of average Iranians.

Though he had been pleasantly surprised by Iranian hospitality on his trip 10 years ago, he was again struck by how friendly, open, and hospitable most Iranians were to him, an American photographer documenting their country.

Well, dear reader, I know a number of people that come from Iran---and I know this might shock you, but they're people like you and I.  Iran and Turkey are two places I'd love to spend some time.  This photo essay, which has had over 260,000 hits, was posted on the businessinsider.com Internet site on June 23---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens, for which I thank him.  Enjoy, because it's also worth your time.  The photo sequence on Afghanistan that follows is also worth looking at.  That photo sequence has had over 331,000 hits.

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Three King World News Interviews

1. Andrew Maguire: "Criminal" CME Colluded to Save Banks Short Gold"  2. Ronald-Peter Stoferle: "4 Astonishing Charts Show Gold May Finally Be Set to Soar"  3. Art Cashin: "Art Cashin Warns of Terrifying Black Swan and the Banking Crisis"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Gold price suppression elicits more notice

Evidence of gold price suppression ahead of futures contract options expiration abounds and is remarked upon in Friday's commentary by GoldCore's Mark O'Byrne.

I found this precious metal-related story in a GATA release yesterday.  It's definitely worth reading.

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London gold fix company appoints committee to oversee benchmark

The company operating the gold price 'fix' has appointed a supervisory committee to oversee the century-old system of benchmarking gold prices ahead of the implementation of stricter regulations, its website showed on Friday.

The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd's new board is made up of compliance officers at the four banks that currently set the twice-daily auction process over the telephone.

The appointment of the committee comes after the company said this month it was seeking a third party to take over administration of the process.

I thought this process was incestuous enough as it was, but this really takes it to a new level.  This Reuters story, filed from London, was posted on their Internet site at 6:40 a.m. EDT Friday morning---and it's the final offering of the day from reader M.A.

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The strange case of Germany's gold: An interview with Peter Boehringer

Interviewed by Andrew Schiff for the summer edition of Euro-Pacific Capital's Global Investor Newsletter, Peter Boehringer of the campaign to repatriate Germany's gold reserves explains how the recent Bloomberg News report on the issue was so misleading and elaborates on the fraud of the fractional-reserve gold banking system.

"One reason that the gold was unavailable for quick delivery," Boehringer says, "could be multiple ownerships of our bars at the Fed. Given today's global fractional gold banking scheme, an (allegedly physically existing) bar in a central bank vault could have more than 10 owners and could thereby show up in more than 10 central bank balance sheets as either 'physical gold' or 'gold claim.' These two completely different balance sheet items have not been properly differentiated for many decades now. We are potentially talking about non-existent physical bars at a magnitude of tens of thousands of tonnes."

The Euro-Pacific newsletter headlines the interview "The Strange Case of German Gold -- An Interview with Peter Boehringer" and it's posted about halfway down the newsletter.  It's definitely worth reading.  I found this gold-related news item on the gata.org Internet site yesterday---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing "all of the above."

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Physical Gold Fund interviews Jim Rickards

July 2014 Interview with Jim Rickards on the June FOMC meeting, Yellen's July congressional testimony, Yellen is now stock picking, Efficient Markets theory is junk science, the bubble economy is headed for another crash, legal ramifications of USD transactions in non-US jurisdictions, in the next crisis you will be told you can not have your money when you ask for it, the term “Macro Prudential” means asset freeze or bail-in, new money market regulations allow for suspension of redemptions, the Fed is coming around to the view that a collapse is coming, regulators are exhibiting signs they expect another collapse, the Federal Reserve regional bank structure, FOMC driving policy, and the freezing or confiscation of 401k’s.

This 51-minute audio interview was posted on the physicalgoldfund.com Internet site very recently---and I thank Harold Jacobsen for finding it for us.  It's certainly worth listening to if you have the time.

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R1.2bn in gold ‘missing’ at Rand Refinery

Rand Refinery, processor of about a third of the world’s gold since 1920, found $113 million (R1.2 billion) less physical metal than the company had booked in its accounts after adopting a new computer system.

The refinery in Germiston, a town 20 kilometres east of Johannesburg, has 87,000 ounces of physical gold less than the amount present in its accounting records after “implementation difficulties” with the new system, the company said in a statement today.

That’s worth about $113 million at today’s price of $1,296 an ounce.

This article was all over the Internet yesterday.  This version appeared on the io.co.za Internet site at 4:30 p.m. South Africa time---and it's the final contribution of the day from Elliot Simon.

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India's gold import restrictions turn into political patronage for trading houses

A war is brewing in the gold market with traders led by the All-India Bullion and Jewellers Association complaining to the Reserve Bank of India that its May 21 decision to allow premier and star trading houses to import gold for local sales has given half a dozen export houses a dominant position in the market and raised imports of the metal.

The RBI claimed that one of the complainants from the trade is likely to initiate action shortly, considering that the sharp rise in imports has happened during the traditionally slack month of June.

The trading houses strongly contested the claims of traders. They say the RBI's action had improved supplies and reduced the premium on gold, and that the traders' claims of the surge in gold imports are exaggerated.

This article, filed from Mumbai, appeared on the Economic Times of India website at 5:11 a.m. IST yesterday---and I found this in a GATA release yesterday.

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Indian gold imports fell 25% year over year---not counting smuggling, of course

Gold imports in 2013-14 stood at 638 tonnes, a decline of 25 per cent over the previous fiscal, Parliament was informed today.

The quantity of gold imported in 2012-13 was 845 tonnes and in 2011-12 it was 919 tonnes, Minister of State for Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

In the April-June period of current fiscal, the quantum of gold import stood at 221 tonnes while in value terms it was Rs 54,792 crore, she said.

This gold-related story, filed from New Delhi, appeared on The Financial Express Internet site at 2:54 p.m. India Standard Time on their Friday afternoon---and it's another item I found over at the gata.org website site.

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Deutsche Bank, HSBC Accused of Silver Fix Manipulation

Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of Nova Scotia were accused in a lawsuit of rigging the price of billions of dollars in silver, an allegation similar to earlier suits involving the London gold fix.

The banks unlawfully manipulated the price of the metal and its derivatives, an investor claims in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The banks abused their position of controlling the daily silver fix to reap illegitimate profit from trading, hurting other investors in the silver market who use the benchmark in billions of dollars of transactions, according to the suit.

“The extreme level of secrecy creates an environment that is ripe for manipulation,” according to the complaint. “Defendants have a strong financial incentive to establish positions in both physical silver and silver derivatives prior to the public release of silver fixing results, allowing them to reap large illegitimate profits.”

It beats the hell out of me why JPMorgan isn't named in this lawsuit, as they're the ringleaders in all this.  However, Canada's Scotiabank is probably #2 on the list.  I won't be the only person interested in how this all turns out.  This story was posted on the businessweek.com Internet site in the wee hours of Saturday morning---and I thank U.K. reader Nigel Bunting for sliding it into my in-box at 10:41 a.m. BST, which works out to 5:41 a.m. EDT this morning.

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Jul 25, 2014

U.S. new-home sales hit three-month low

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes fell 8.1% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, with drops across the country.

June’s result missed expectations from economists polled by MarketWatch, who had forecast a rate of 475,000, compared with an originally estimated pace of 504,000 for May. On Thursday, the government reported a sizable downward revision to its May figure, estimating a pace of 442,000.

New-home sales in June were down 11.5% from a year earlier.

This martketwatch.com article appeared on their website at 11:20 a.m. EDT on Thursday---and it's worth reading---and the chart is worth the trip all by itself.  I thank Roy Stephens for his first contribution to today's column.

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Greenspan says bubbles can’t be stopped without ‘crunch’

Sitting in his office with a view of the Washington Monument in the distance, Greenspan is eager to share the insight distilled in his recent book, “The Map and the Territory,” due out in paperback this fall.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MarketWatch: What is the biggest challenge facing the Fed?

Greenspan: How to unwind the huge increase in the size of its balance sheet with minimal impact. It is not going to be easy, and it is not obvious exactly how to do it.

MarketWatch: As the Fed is looking at the exit, do you think we can get through this without upsetting the economy?

Greenspan: I certainly hope so. I certainly think they will. But it is going to be difficult.

MarketWatch: Do you expect a sharp market reaction to the first hike?

Greenspan: Of course. Look what happened when the first indication of tapering occurred. Markets have always been sensitive. They reflect animal spirits.

I seem to remember Alan Greenspan saying that it was impossible to recognized a bubble when you were in one.  This 2-page interview showed up on the marketwatch.com Internet site at 8:44 a.m. EDT yesterday---and it's the second story in a row from Roy Stephens.

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David Stockman: C’mon Alan! Bubbles Are Caused By Central Bankers, Not “Human Nature”

Alan Greenspan just cannot give up the ghost. During his baleful 18-year reign, the Fed was turned into a serial bubble machine—and thereby became a clear and present danger to honest free market capitalism and an enemy of the 99% who do not benefit from the Wall Street casino and the vast inflation of financial assets which it has enabled.  His legacy is a toxically financialized economy that has extracted huge windfall rents from main street, and left it burdened with overwhelming debts and sharply reduced capacity for gains in real living standards and breadwinner jobs.

Yet after all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs: "I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature."

Stockman rips Greenspan a new one, but Greenspan's legacy, if you wish to dignify it with that name, is a target-rich environment---and the interview in the previous story was like saying "sic 'em" to a dog---and David jumped right in.  This commentary showed up on his website yesterday---and it's the third contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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M&M's, Snickers maker to raise chocolate prices 7 percent

Mars Chocolate North America, the maker of M&M's and Snickers, said on Wednesday that it will raise its prices by an average of 7 percent "to offset rising costs," its first increase in three years.

The price hike by Mars, which did not provide an effective date, follows Hershey Co, the No. 1 candy maker in the United States, which on July 15 raised its chocolate prices about 8 percent due to soaring commodity costs.

"In the three years since our last price increase, in March 2011, we have invested significantly in the category and have experienced a dramatic increase in our costs of doing business," a spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

The cost of cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate, has seen a meteoric rise in the past year, having climbed nearly 50 percent to a three-year high on Wednesday at $3,204 per tonne on ICE Futures. U.S. Dairy prices have also soared.

This short article put in an appearance on the chicagotribune.com Internet site at 3:50 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Wednesday---and I found it embedded in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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600 million Apple devices contain secret back doors, researcher claims

A security researcher considered to be among the foremost experts in his field says that more than a half-billion mobile devices running Apple’s latest iOS operating system contain secret backdoors.

Jonathan Zdziarski, also known by his online alias “NerveGas,” told the audience attending his Friday morning presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City that around 600 million Apple devices, including iPhones and tablets, contain hidden features that allow data to be surreptitiously slurped from those devices.

During Zdziarski’s HOPE presentation, “Identifying Back doors, Attack Points and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices,” the researcher revealed that several undocumented forensic services are installed on every new iPhone and iPad, making it easier that ever for a third-party to pull data from those devices in order to compromise a target and take hold of their personal information, including pictures, text messages, voice recordings and more.

This Russia Today article showed up on their Internet site at 8:08 p.m. on Wednesday evening Moscow time---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Stalled recovery leaves Europe defenceless against economic shock from Russia

Europe's economic recovery has stalled. The EMU policy elites took a fateful gamble that global growth alone would lift the eurozone off the reefs, without the need for serious monetary stimulus or a reflation package to ensure take-off velocity.

Their strategy has failed. The Bundesbank says German growth may have slumped to zero in the second quarter. French industrial output has fallen for three months in a row. French business surveys point to an outright contraction of GDP, with a high risk of a triple-dip recession.

Stagnation is automatically causing debt ratios to spiral upwards yet again across a large part of the currency bloc. The situation is doubly delicate since the European Central Bank is no longer able to serve as a lender-of last resort for Italy, Portugal and Spain.

This Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offering put in an appearance on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 8:59 p.m. on Wednesday evening---and it's definitely worth reading.  It's another contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Cameron claims export licenses allowing U.K. arms sales to Russia don’t breach embargo

UK Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain has not breached an embargo by selling military equipment to Russia, following MP demands to clarify the government’s position on UK-Russian arms deals.

The embargo was enacted “with immediate effect” on March 18 by then-Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Heated criticism of British arms deals with Russia emerged after a group of MPs revealed over 200 licenses allowing the sale of British military equipment to the Russian Federation. These revelations surfaced in a report published on Wednesday, conducted by four separate House of Commons committees.

The Committee on Arms Export Controls’ hard-hitting review contradicted a public statement by David Cameron on July 21. The Prime Minister had indicated the government had enforced an absolute arms embargo against Russia.

The meaning of the word hypocrisy is here, dear reader.  This Russia Today story appeared on their website at 3:04 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday afternoon---7:04 a.m. in New York.  I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

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Putin cronies get a week to pull their cash out of Britain as E.U. drags its feet

Russian oligarchs who are close to Vladimir Putin have a week to get their cash out of Britain before sanctions are imposed, it has emerged.

European Union officials started on Tuesday to prepare the list of businessmen and Moscow officials who will be targeted by the sanctions.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has made clear the Britain’s desperation to take action at those close to Mr Putin’s regime, saying "the cronies of Mr Putin and his clique in the Kremlin are the people who have to bear the pressure".

However, British sources disclosed that it will not be until the end of the month that all EU countries will have prepared their lists of individuals to be hit with the sanctions.

This article appeared on The Telegraph's website at 7:14 p.m. BST on Wednesday afternoon---and it's another story I found in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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Germany begins spying on Britain and America for the first time since 1945

Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered her counter-espionage services to begin surveillance of British and American intelligence gathering in Germany for the first time since 1945 in response to a series of U.S. spy scandals which have badly soured relations between Berlin and Washington.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung and two-state funded German TV channels, WDR and NDR, quoted an unnamed Berlin government source who said Ms Merkel’s Chancellery and her interior and foreign ministries had agreed to launch counter-espionage measures against Britain and the U.S. for the first time.

“Right now we need to send a strong signal,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the source as saying. The extraordinary measures are a direct response to a series of embarrassing U.S. and British spying scandals in Germany which began last year with revelations that the US National Security Agency had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone.

The Chancellor protested on several occasions that she was “not amused” by the disclosures.

This news item, filed from Berlin, was posted on the independent.co.uk Internet site on Thursday---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it our way.

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European rights court condemns Poland for hosting secret CIA prisons

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Poland violated an international treaty to protect human rights by hosting secret CIA prisons on its territory.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Poland had contravened articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that cover torture, the right to liberty, and the right to an effective remedy for victims of crime.

The case was filed by two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who charge they were taken to a secret CIA black site in a Polish forest and subjected to treatment which amounted to torture. The men said at a hearing in December they had been brought to Poland in December 2002 with the knowledge of the Polish authorities. Both are now detainees at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

This news item showed up on the Russia Today website at 8:29 a.m. Thursday morning Moscow time---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine's Government Collapses, PM Yatsenyuk Resigns

As if Ukraine was not struggling through enough turmoil currently, Bloomberg reports that thefragile coalition government has collapsed after two parties quit. The UDAR and Svoboda parties said they’d leave the government and seek a snap parliamentary ballot. Tempers have been fraying recently as numerous brawls have broken out in parliament ahead of President Poroshenko's pledge to call elections this year. All we have to do now is find out who Washington would like to see in power?

The end result: Prime Minister Yatsenyuk just resigned. The big question now is what will the IMF do about the remaining tranches of its loans?

This story appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 3:36 p.m. EDT on Thursday---and I thank reader M.A. for finding it for us.  There was also a story about this on the RIA Novosti website.  It's headlined "Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Announces Resignation"---and it's from Roy Stephens.

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Ukrainian crisis will not split Russia and Europe - Medvedev

The Russian Prime Minister has acknowledged that relations with the E.U. have become more complicated, but assured foreign trade representatives that the situation in Ukraine would not become a barrier between Russia and Europe.

Despite the current crisis and the sanctions against Russian citizens and companies, Moscow is interested in further development of mutually beneficial relations with European nations, Dmitry Medvedev said in a speech on Wednesday.

This is true that the Ukrainian crisis has complicated our relations with the European Union. Sometimes these events are called a dividing ridge between Europe’s past and future. But this is not true for our country – the EU will remain our major trade partner for a long time and we value our reputation as a reliable supplier,” the Russian Prime Minister stated.

At the same time, Medvedev emphasized that Russia would use all lawful means to protect its business interests in the current complicated conditions.

This is another article from the Russia Today website.  This one was posted there at 1:44 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday afternoon---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

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State Dept. accuses Russia of firing artillery into Ukraine, refuses to provide any evidence

Government officials in the United States said Thursday that Russia is firing artillery across the border into Ukrainian territory, but refused to provide any evidence when grilled by an Associated Press reporter.

Matthew Lee, a veteran AP journalist known for his frequent showdowns with spokespeople during US State Department briefings, raised questions about the latest claims during Thursday’s scheduled press conference.

“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters during the Thursday afternoon briefing.

When asked by Lee for any evidence, however, Harf said the State Department is unwilling at this time to disclose further details because doing so could expose the secret intelligence operations involved in making such claims.

This Russia Today story showed up on their Internet site at 7:09 p.m Moscow time on Thursday evening---and I thank Roy Stephens once again.  It's worth reading.

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Russian Investigators Pledge to Hold Ukraine's Avakov, Kolomoyskyi Responsible for Crimes

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi will bear responsibility for their crimes, Russian Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin said Thursday.

“Avakov and Kolomoyskyi aren’t going anywhere. Sooner or later they will be held accountable for their criminal responsibility according to the norms of international law,” Bastrykin said.

As events in Ukraine continue to unravel, Russia is launching criminal cases against both individuals. The Russian Investigative Committee identified 2,700 victims in the criminal cases in the Ukrainian crisis, accusing Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Dnipropetrovsk Region Governor Ihor Kolomoyskyi of organizing unlawful massacres.

This brief RIA Novosti news item, filed from St. Petersburg, was posted on their Internet site at 2:25 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday afternoon.  It's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Sanctions 'wrong signal amid Kiev's punitive' military op - Ambassador

Russia’s ambassador to the UK hit out at planned sanctions on Moscow today, saying that they would be ‘illegal, unreasonable and counter productive’.

He said that sanctions would not serve the interests of he countries concerned, including the U.S., and would "trigger a long anticipated endgame of the present global crisis".

Speaking at a press conference in London on Friday, Alexander Yakovenko told the media that imposing sanctions would send the “wrong message to Kiev’s continued “punitive operation” in Eastern Ukraine.

He said there was ‘no evidence that Russia supplied weapons to separatists, adding that Ukraine and the West’s suggestions on who was responsible for the crash of flight MH17 ‘don’t hold water’.

This is another news item from the Russia Today website.  This one appeared on their Internet site at 2:30 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday---and is definitely worth reading, especially the contents of the second paragraph highlighted above.  One wonders what he meant by that?  I thank Richard Cashmore for bringing it to our attention.

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$200 per barrel oil if Russia sanctions escalate: Oxford Economics

If the standoff with Russia and the West reaches a point where the E.U. has to completely cut trade with Russia, oil prices could soar above $200 per barrel, sparking a global economic crisis, says Adam Slater, senior economist at Oxford Economics.

Cutting off trade with Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter, would create a shortage in global energy supplies, which would have spillover effects into Europe, Slater told The Guardian.

The E.U. buys 84 percent of Russian oil exports, and 76 percent of natural gas exports. About a quarter of European countries completely rely on Russia for gas or oil supplies.

As of yet, Russia hasn’t halted European gas supplied through politically unstable Ukraine, but this event itself could trigger “stage three”, or trade-specific sanctions.

This commentary put in an appearance on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:16 a.m. Moscow time on Wednesday morning---and it's the final contribution of the day from Roy Stephens, for which I thank him.

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No One Wants Russia to Host the 2018 World Cup

Peter Beuth, interior minister of the German state of Hesse, has said, "If Putin doesn’t actively cooperate on clearing up the plane crash, the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable." Michael Fuchs, a senior leader in Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats party agreed, saying, "FIFA football association should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can’t even guarantee safe airways." 

This comes just days after six players of the Donetsk soccer team refused to leave France after a match and board a plane back to Ukraine.

The Netherlands Football Association is also suggesting the 2018 World Cup could be moved.

This is all getting rather childish---Russia guilty without a shred of evidence.  You'd think that grown men would know better, but obviously not.  This article appeared on thewire.com Internet site at 3:21 p.m. EDT on Wednesday---and I thank reader Victor George for sharing it with us.

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9 Things We Just Learned About Vladimir Putin's Life

A new article in Newsweek provides quite a bit of insight into Russian President Vladimir Putin's daily routine and private life.

The writer, Ben Judah, spent three years interviewing those close to Putin for his book "Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin."

Judah's insights into Putin's life come from former prime ministers, current ministers, regional governors, senior bureaucrats, close advisers, and personal aides to the president.

This very interesting commentary showed up on the businessinsider.com Internet site at 11:18 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and I thank Harry Grant for sending it our way.

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Japan Trade Deficit Expands After Exports Unexpectedly Drop

Japan’s exports unexpectedly fell in June to swell the trade deficit more than forecast, dragging on an economy squeezed by a sales-tax increase in April.

Exports shrank 2 percent from a year earlier, the finance ministry said in Tokyo today, compared with a median forecast of a 1 percent rise in a Bloomberg News survey of 29 economists. Imports rose 8.4 percent to leave a shortfall of 822.2 billion yen ($8.1 billion), surpassing a 643 billion yen projection.

Exports fell 1.7 percent by volume, showing the yen’s 16 percent drop against the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012 has failed to boost outward shipments. They remain 23 percent lower by value than a peak in March 2008, in contrast to the U.S. where they grew 25 percent over the same period.

This short Bloomberg news item, filed from Tokyo, showed up on their website at 1:31 a.m. Denver time on Thursday morning---and it's the third and final story that I 'borrowed' from yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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Four King World News blogs/audio interviews

1. Egon von Greyerz: "Shocking Charts Show That Gold is Set to Skyrocket"  2. William Kaye: "Marc Faber, Gold, Silver---and the Horrific Endgame For Markets"  3. Hugo Salinas Price: "Elites Plan to Control Humanity"  4. The audio interview is with Michael Pento

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Lawsuit charges that half of Chicago futures are illegal 'wash' trades

Since March 30 of this year when bestselling author, Michael Lewis, appeared on 60 Minutes to explain the findings of his latest book, Flash Boys, as “stock market’s rigged,” America has been learning some very uncomfortable truths about the tilted playing field against the public stock investor.

Throughout this time, no one has been more adamant than Terrence (Terry) Duffy, the Executive Chairman and President of the CME Group, which operates the largest futures exchange in the world in Chicago, that the charges made by Lewis about the stock market have nothing to do with his market. The futures markets are pristine, according to testimony Duffy gave before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee on May 13.

On Tuesday of this week, Duffy’s credibility and the honesty of the futures exchanges he runs came into serious question when lawyers for three traders filed a Second Amended Complaint in Federal Court against Duffy, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and other individuals involved in leadership roles at the CME Group.

From watching and listening to what Mr. Duffy has had to say over the years, it has convinced me that he's not the sort of person that you would want to leave your pet, or a small child with, for any length of time.  This commentary was showed up on the wallstreetonparade.com website yesterday---and falls into the must read category.  I found it posted on the gata.org Internet site yesterday.

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A Chinese Gold Standard?

While the 70th anniversary of D-Day last month received a lot of attention, another event, in July 1944 — the Bretton Woods conference, named for the mountain resort in New Hampshire where it was held — was perhaps even more significant in shaping the modern world. It not only led to the creation of what are now the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but it also confirmed the central position of the United States dollar in the international monetary system.

Why does this matter for us now? Just as America displaced Britain as the world’s pre-eminent economic power in the interwar period, so, too, the large debts and fiscal pressures confronting the West, and the rise of China and other economic powers, challenge us to think about the future of finance.

For most of the 19th century the British pound had been the world’s “reserve currency,” the currency in which trade and finance were denominated. “As sound as a pound” became a widely used expression. The pound was pegged to gold at a fixed rate of just under £4 per ounce.

At the outbreak of World War I, Britain abandoned the gold standard. You could no longer exchange pounds for gold. The gold standard was reintroduced in 1925, but this, as John Maynard Keynes observed, proved to be an economic mistake.

This opinion piece, filed from London, showed up on The New York Times website yesterday sometime---and I thank Phil Barlett for sending it our way.

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Zero Hedge pokes excellent fun at Peter Hambro

The ongoing transition of gold price manipulation from conspiracy theory to conspiracy fact just escalated as Bloomberg reports, Peter Hambro, chairman of Russia's 2nd largest gold producer Petropavlovsk Plc, said he was "horrified" by the manipulation of the London fix given its importance to the industry. One wonders just how many of these individuals, involved in the manipulation, Hambro is dinner-party friends with?

While we believe Hambro is right to be "horrified;" after 10 years of manipulation (downwards at least two-thirds of the time in six different years between 2004 and 2013. In 2010, large moves during the fix were negative 92 percent of the time), we suspect he knew something was going on...

I posted the Bloomberg story on which this ZH piece is based in my Wednesday column---and here is what I had to say about it then---"Hambro is more than aware of the price management scheme in gold and the other precious metals, so his comments are certainly disingenuous---and that's being kind."  He, like every other precious metal mining executive, is complicit by their silence.  But it's my opinion that he's more complicit than most.

This Zero Hedge item appeared on their website at 7:04 p.m. EDT yesterday evening---and it's a must read for sure.  I thank GATA's Chris Powell for the headline, but the first reader through the door with the story was Phil Barlett.

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Jul 24, 2014

Atlantic City’s Credit Rating Cut Two Steps to Junk by Moody’s

The reduction to Ba1 from Baa2 on the city’s $245 million of general-obligation debt reflects a weakened tax base resulting from anticipated casino closings, the New York-based ratings company said today in a statement. The outlook remains negative.

“The downgrade to Ba1 reflects the city’s significantly weakened tax base, revenue-raising ability and broader economic outlook,” analysts Vito Galluccio and Julie Beglin said in the statement. “These result from ongoing casino revenue declines, expected near-term casino closures, and the impact of sizable casino tax appeals, all of which has stemmed from increased competition from casinos in neighboring states.”

Atlantic City lost its regional monopoly as states including Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York legalized casinos or expanded betting to increase tax revenue. Casino revenue in the city has dropped for seven straight years, falling to $2.86 billion last year from a high of $5.07 billion in 2006, according to Bloomberg Industries.

The city’s 11 gambling houses account for almost half its jobs: 5,883 positions in a workforce of 13,500. The Atlantic Club closed in January, putting 1,600 people out of work. The closing of Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s Showboat on Aug. 31 will wipe out 2,133 jobs. Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino said it plans to close Sept. 16, taking away another 1,009. Revel, the $2.4 billion complex that employs 3,106 people, is seeking a buyer in bankruptcy.

This short Bloomberg news item, filed from Trenton, N.J., was posted on their Internet site at 3:20 p.m. Denver time yesterday---and today's first story is courtesy of Howard Wiener.

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Illinois Workforce Shrinks By Largest Margin in State History

In June, Illinois suffered the largest monthly workforce loss in recorded state history.

June’s workforce loss was worse than the worst month of the Great Recession. Overall, 21,700 Illinoisans gave up and left the workforce in June; in September 2008, 17,500 Illinoisans quit the workforce.

This hefty workforce loss has driven state’s unemployment rate down to 7.1% from 7.5%, creating a superficial appearance of improvement. And Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois needs to “keep the momentum.”

Keeping up this sort of “momentum” would be disastrous.

This news item appeared on the illinoispolicy.org Internet site on Sunday---and it's something I found in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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Jobs Hold Sway Over Yellen and Carney as Central Banks Splinter

Before the Federal Reserve and fellow central banks go to work raising interest rates, they first need others to go to work.

That’s the signal from policy makers worldwide, as even those whose mandates focus on inflation put the health of labor markets at the heart of their decision making. The approach leaves investors bracing for global monetary policies to diverge after the post-crisis embrace of easy money.

Accelerating job creation -- and the hope this will spur wages -- leaves the U.S. central bank and the Bank of England preparing for higher rates by the end of 2015. At the other end of the spectrum, double-digit unemployment in the euro area and stagnant pay in Japan mean stimulus remains the only option.

Nothing has changed, dear reader, as it's still "print or die"---and forget about higher interest rates anytime this year or next.  Even a hint of an imminent interest rate hike would crush the bond market.  This longish Bloomberg article, co-filed from Washington and London, was posted on their Web site at 3:25 a.m. MDT on Wednesday morning---and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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The "Gates" Are Closing: SEC Votes Through Money Market Reform

It was nearly five years ago when Zero Hedge first wrote: "This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied" in which we predicted as part of the ongoing herding of investors away from every other asset class and into stocks, regulation will be implemented to enforce that "money market fund managers will have the option to 'suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets" or in other words implement redemption "gates." The logic: spook participants in the $2.6 trillion money market industry with the prospect of being gated (i.e., having no access to ones funds) and force them to reallocate funds elsewhere.

Moments ago the gates arrived, when following a close 3-2 vote (with republican commissioner Piwowar and democrat Stein dissenting), the SEC adopted new rules designed to curb the risk of investor runs on money market funds, capping the end of a years-long heated debate between regulators and the industry dating to the financial crisis according to Reuters.

Among the changes, funds will have to switch to a floating share price instead of the current $1/share (hence the term breaking the buck). But the key part: "The SEC's rule will require prime money market funds to move from a stable $1 per share net asset value, to a floating NAV. It also will let fund boards lower redemption "gates" and fees in times of market stress."

This longish piece appeared on the Zero Hedge Web site at 1:18 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and I thank Dr. Dave Janda for sending it around.

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Tale of the Tapes: IRS Head Confirms Investigators Have Found Backup Tapes in Lerner Probe

The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing "backup tapes" -- despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled. 

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know "how they found them" or "whether there's anything on them or not." But he said the inspector general's office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any "recoverable" material. 

The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes "no longer exist because they have been recycled." 

It is unclear whether the tapes in I.G. custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking.

Tapes in this day and age?  Would they be cassette, 8-track, or reel-to-reel?  Just asking.  This Fox News item showed up on their Web site yesterday sometime---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

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Super bear Marc Faber: Here Are the Markets I Like

Investment guru Marc Faber, famed for his gloomy views on financial markets, took some time out from being the voice of doom on Wednesday to highlight areas of the market that he actually liked.

On CNBC Asia's Squawk Box, the author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report singled out the agriculture sector, Chinese and Hong Kong stocks and precious metals as places he thought investors should put their money into.

"In general I like plantation companies – I like everything to do with agriculture," said Faber, who is also widely known as Dr. Doom.

This 3:54-minute video clip was posted on the CNBC Web site late yesterday morning Hong Kong time---and I thank reader Ken Hurt for sharing it with us.

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UK Hastens Negotiations for Currency-Rigging Settlement

Talks to reach the first settlement in the currency-rigging probe are accelerating, with Britain's markets regulator preparing to reach a deal with a group of banks this year, people with knowledge of the talks said.

The Financial Conduct Authority is in talks with banks including Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and UBS AG, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc may also be part of the group settlement, one of the people said.

The FCA is trying to fast-track the process and may levy any fines in the coming months, three of the people said. The watchdog is seeking to keep the scope of the deal narrow to speed up the settlement, two of the people said.

The talks are still continuing and an agreement may stretch into next year, the people added.

This article showed up on the Bloomberg Web site at 5 p.m. MDT yesterday afternoon, but it was posted there earlier than that because I received it in a GATA release at 12:37 p.m. MDT.

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Defying UK, France to Proceed with Warships Sale to Russia

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius responded with a strong dose of sarcasm to British criticism of France’s planned sale of two warships to Russia, saying the UK should put its own house in order before criticising others.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Paris’s plan to press ahead with the €1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) order of two French warships following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine would be “unthinkable” in Britain.

“The English, in particular, were very pleasant so to speak, saying, 'We would never do that'. But I told my dear British friends, let’s talk about the financial sector,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told TF1 television after returning from a European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

“I am led to believe that there are quite a few Russian oligarchs in London,” he said.

When asked if that meant Britain should take care of its own business first, Fabius said: “Exactly.”

This is a big "UP YOURS!" with a French twist.  It was posted on the france24.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Europe Braced for Any Gas Crisis as Russia Sanctions Escalate

Europe has enough spare capacity in liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet a large part of the region’s needs if Russia retaliates against the latest EU sanctions by restricting gas supplies.

The showdown with Russian president Vladimir Putin comes at moment of surging global supplies of LNG, which can be diverted to European markets and reduce the Kremlin’s political leverage. The price of LNG in Asia has crashed from $20 to $11 per million British thermal unit (BTU) since February.

The pan-EU group Gas Infrastructure Europe said the network of LNG terminals in Britain and the Continent is currently operating at just 20% of its full capacity. It could in theory boost flows by 160bn cubic metres (BCM), if there is available gas.

This is more than Russia’s entire shipments, which reached 155 BCM last year. The European network of pipelines does not cover every region and would leave pockets in eastern Europe without supply.

What b.s.!!!  This is wall-to-wall disinformation, but Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is always one to stoop to the occasion when it does arise---and when his master calls.  This commentary was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 10:20 p.m. BST on Tuesday evening.

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Black Boxes of Crashed Malaysian Plane to Be Deciphered in 2 Days

It will take about two days to retrieve and decipher data from flight recorders of the Malaysian airliner that crashed in eastern Ukraine last week killing nearly 300 people, a spokesman for the UK Department for Transport told reporters Wednesday.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch experts in Farnborough, Hampshire, will study the flight data recorders, known commonly as black boxes. The spokesman said that the process might take about two days, depending on their condition.

“Experts received flight recorders at the lab in Farnborough, Hampshire. Experts will attempt to extract data from the recorders at the request of Dutch authorities, which are conducting the investigation. Based on the damage [to black boxes] the process can take about two days,” the spokesman said.

He stressed that he was only referring to the extraction of data from the flight recorders and its transfer to the Netherlands, not about the conclusions about the cause of the crash. One of the flight recorders stored technical parameters of the plane, while the other recorded the sounds on board.

This RIA Novosti news item, filed from London, was posted on their Internet site at 3:53 p.m. yesterday afternoon Moscow time, or 7:53 a.m. New York time.

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Crashed MH17 Flight "Was 300 Miles Off Typical Course"

Robert Mark, a commercial pilot who edits Aviation International News Safety magazine, said that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur normally travelled along a route significantly further south than the plane which crashed.

Malaysia Airlines has insisted its plane travelled on an "approved route" used by many other carriers.

But Mr Mark said: "I can only tell you as a commercial pilot myself that if we had been routed that way, with what's been going on in the Ukraine and the Russian border over the last few weeks and months, I would never have accepted that route.

"I went into the FlightAware system, which we all use these days to see where airplanes started and where they tracked, and I looked back at the last two weeks' worth of MH17 flights, which was this one---And the flight today tracked very, very much further north into the Ukraine than the other previous flights did...there were MH17 versions that were 300 miles south of where this one was."

This story appeared in The Telegraph a week ago, but it's still worth your time.  I thank Harry Grant for sending it along at midnight MDT last night.

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The Saker: The Most Pathetic Case of Backpedaling I Have Seen in My Life

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

The officials briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week's air disaster, which killed 298 people.

The plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

Have you counted the "caveat words"?  I counted 15 (depending on what you want to include).  Notice that they consider the Ukie missile as "implausible" but that they never explain why this would be implausible.  And they admit relying in part on social media and Ukie government info?  How absolutely utterly pathetic.  I mean - I feel sorry for them.  For any self-respecting intelligence official to admit such things is to commit a seppuku of your professional pride.  It's admitting that you are an amateur and a drooling moron.  And here is the deal - I very much doubt that these men are amateurs or morons.  So, yet again, they were back-stabbed by imbecile politicians like Obama and Power who just are not used to consulting with their own specialist before flapping their lips and never mind if they make an entire intelligence community look like cretins.

But of course the big news here is this: the U.S. fairy tale about Putin the terrorist is falling down in flames.  Yet again the Neocons by their sheer arrogance, hubris and boundless stupidity manged to lie their way into a corner from which there is no exit.  Not that the U.S. had much street-cred anyway, not after Colin Powell's dishwasher powder in a vial at the UNSC.  But, of course, there is bad, very bad, even worse and outright terrible.  But now the U.S. has reached the "terminal" stage.  The AngloZionists sure had this one coming.

And I couldn't agree more!  This must-read commentary showed up on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca Web site yesterday---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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Pepe Escobar: A Chessboard Drenched in Blood

"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Everyone remembers the Downing Street Memo, which unveiled the Bush/Blair "policy" in the run-up to the 2003 bombing/invasion/occupation of Iraq. The "policy" was to get rid of Saddam Hussein via a lightning war. The justification was "terrorism" and (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which had "disappeared", mounted in trucks, deep into Syria. Forget about intelligence and facts.

The tragedy of MH17 - turned, incidentally, into a WMD - might be seen as a warped rerun of imperial policy in Iraq. No need for a memo this time. The "policy" of the Empire of Chaos is clear, and multi-pronged; diversify the "pivot to Asia" by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine to sabotage trade between Europe and Russia; expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine; break the Russia-China strategic partnership; prevent by all means the trade/economic integration of Eurasia, from the Russia-Germany partnership to the New Silk Roads converging from China to the Ruhr; keep Europe under US hegemony.

The key reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin did not "invade" Eastern Ukraine - as much as he's been enticed to by Washington/NATO - to stop a U.S. military adviser-facilitated running slaughter of civilians is that he does not want to antagonize the European Union, Russia's top trading partner.

Crucially, Washington's intervention in Kosovo invoking R2P - Responsibility to Protect - was justified at the time for exactly the same reasons a Russian intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk could be totally justified now. Except that Moscow won't do it - because the Kremlin is playing a very long game.

Here's another must read for you today.  It was posted on the Asia Times Internet site yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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David McWilliams: Deadly Game of Human Chess

When seen from the Russian perspective, Ukraine is just another example of the gradual but definitive encroachment of the West into all things Russian. Russia and Ukraine are not different cultures. They are part of the same broader Russian/Slavic family. Our narrative is that the Russians are happy to keep Ukraine unstable and that what happened to the Malaysian airliner was the risk Russia was running by arming the separatists with sophisticated weapons.

Seen from the Russian side, it isn’t the Russians who are doing the destabilising but the Americans.

For them, the Americans arming and financially supporting an opposition in Ukraine would be like the Scottish Nationalists being financed by Russia. How do you think London and Washington would react to that? How do you think they’d react to the idea of a Russian puppet running an independent Scottish state from Edinburgh?

This is how close Ukraine is to Russia.

Now when you think about it in those terms, do you think Putin will back down and do what the West wants him to do?

This commentary by David McWilliams also falls into the must-read category---and it was posted on his Web site on Monday.  I thank reader M.A. for bringing this article to our attention.

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Why Putin Isn't Afraid of Europe

Why can't Europe's leaders bring themselves to impose tough sanctions on Russia after the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet disaster? One explanation is that economic ties to Russia, a major supplier of energy, trump the moral imperative to punish President Vladimir Putin for his support of separatists in Ukraine.

A look at trade data for selected European countries offers an indication of the incentives in play. The Netherlands, which had 193 citizens aboard Flight MH17, is among the most connected: Russia accounted for about 6.4% of its imports in the 12 months through February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Germany, the most politically powerful country in Europe, is roughly three times more tied to Russia than the U.S. or the U.K., which have been much more aggressive in pushing sanctions.

Europe's economic ties to Russia are much stronger than they were when Putin came to power. Back in February 1999, soon after he took over from former President Boris Yeltsin, Russia's share of German exports and imports was less than half what it is today. Apparently, building new pipelines to Europe has served Russia's geopolitical interests well.

This opinion piece by Mark Whitehouse showed up on the Bloomberg Internet site at 1:50 p.m. EDT on Wednesday afternoon---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Putin Recalls State Duma From Vacation, "Planning Something" on Ukraine Situation

In a somewhat disconcerting move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has recalled The State Duma from a planned vacation to participate in an unscheduled meeting because of the situation in eastern Ukraine. As Ukrinform reports, sources confirm "Something is being planned, because many deputies come, probably for a quorum." Rumors are spreading that Putin is set to issue Kiev an ultimatum over recognizing separatists or face military intervention.

Given that Poroshenko has demanded the separatists be labeled "terrorists" under international law, we suspect this is one demand they cannot fulfill... and of course, Ukraine is claiming that the 2 fighter jets shot down this morning were shot down by and from Russia... sure, with the whole world watching, Putin would do that?

This very interesting news item appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 11:46 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and I thank Bill Busser for finding this for us.

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Opening Remarks of Vladimir Putin at the Russian Security Council Meeting

Note: normally the meetings of the Russian Security Council are held behind closed doors.  This time, however, the press was allowed in just to record the beginning of the opening remarks of Vladimir Putin.  Then the press was asked to leave.  Clearly, this is intended as a message to the Russian people.  I have bolded out the part which appear the most important to me. - The Sakar

Good afternoon, colleagues.

Today we will consider the fundamental issues of maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country. We all understand how many political, ethnic, legal, social, economic and other aspects this topic encompasses.

Sovereignty and territorial integrity are fundamental values, as I have already said. We are referring to the maintenance of the independence and unity of our state, to the reliable protection of our territory, our constitutional system and to the timely neutralization of internal and external threats, of which there are quite a few in the world today. I should make it clear from the start that, obviously, there is no direct military threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country. Primarily, the strategic balance of forces in the world guarantees this.

We, on our part, strictly comply with the norms of international law and with our commitments to our partners, and we expect other countries, unions of states and military-political alliances to do the same, while Russia is fortunately not a member of any alliance. This is also a guarantee of our sovereignty.

These longish remarks by Vladimir Putin were posted on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca website yesterday sometime---and worth reading if you have the time.  It's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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China’s Terrifying Debt Ratios Poised to Breeze Past US Levels

The China-US sorpasso is looming. I do not mean the much-exaggerated moment when China’s GDP will overtake America's GDP – which may not happen in the lifetime of anybody reading this blog post – as China slows to more pedestrian growth rates (an objective of premier Li Keqiang.)

The sorpasso may instead be the ominous moment when China’s debt ratios overtake the arch-debtor itself.

I had presumed that this inflection point was still a very long way off, but a new report from Stephen Green at Standard Chartered argues that China’s aggregate debt level has reached 251% of GDP, as of June.

This is up 20 percentage points of GDP since late 2013. The total is much higher than normal estimates, though it tallies with what I have heard privately from officials at the IMF and the BIS.

This Ambrose-Evans Pritchard blog appeared on The Telegraph's Web site on Tuesday sometime---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Four King World News Blogs

1. Michael Pento: "This is the Timeline For the Terrifying Endgame of Destruction"  2. Frank K: "Switzerland Has Exported a Shocking Amount of Gold to Asia"  3. Investors Intelligence: "Here is the Chart That Has the Central Planners Worried"  4. William Kaye: "Is This the Real Reason Why Malaysian MH17 Was Shot Down?"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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A Revolving Door Farce: CFTC Commissioner Bails to Head Regulator's Biggest Opponent

There is no better way to describe what the recently departed CFTC commissioner Scott O'Malia just did when he bailed from the commodity watchdog to become the new head of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, aka ISDA, the biggest banking group that has constantly opposed every intervention and attempt to regulate the swaps market by the CFTC since the Lehman crisis, than an epic farce.

For those who are unaware ISDA is a global OTC derivative lobby group, counting the world's largest investment banks among its members, and has frequently fought regulatory efforts to reform the market after the financial crisis. ISDA itself was exposed as a complete joke during the European crisis when due to the overhang of avoiding Europe's insolvent reality, it made CDS protection obsolete as protection from sovereign restructurings and credit events, in the process crushing one of the key ways to hedge for credit event risk.

Even an otherwise impartial Reuters appears outraged by this blatant and painfully clear example of government capture of "public servants" by those who have dangle carrots of money in exchange for lobby (and future employment promise) favors, and thus set the rules, courtesy of people like O'Malia.

If there was any more proof needed that the CFTC is a compromised and crooked organization, here it is.  O'Malia handed in his notice on Tuesday---and look where he is 24 hours later.  This Zero Hedge piece was posted on their Web site at 11:29 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning---and I thank Phil Barlett for sending it our way.

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US Gold ETF Delivers First Physical Bullion Coins; Holdings Grow

Merk Gold Trust, a bullion-backed exchange-traded fund that allows its shares to be redeemed for physical gold, said on Wednesday it has made its first delivery in dozens of U.S. gold coins to an investor.

The ETF, launched by Palo Alto, California-based Merk Funds in May to offer a liquid trading product with the benefits of physical gold bullion, has accumulated 40,000 ounces in two months even in a bearish gold market.

The fund, trading on the NYSE Arca platform with the ticker OUNZ, owns less than 1 percent of gold held by SPDR Gold Shares , the world's biggest gold ETF. However, many participants are warming to the idea that the product could bridge the gap between the physical and paper gold markets.

This very interesting Reuters piece, filed from New York, showed up on their Internet site at 3:46 p.m. EDT on Wednesday afternoon.  I found it embedded in a GATA release late last night MDT.

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Smoking Out Indian Gold, Central Bank Relaxes Loan Rules

In a major relief, the Reserve Bank of India has relaxed the limit of loan that banks can sanction against the pledging of gold ornaments and jewellery, and where the end use of the loan is not for agricultural purposes.

The move is expected to protect the interest of the customers who can continue to opt for gold loans based on merits of the case, rather than rely on the loan to value ratio. The RBI has however retained the loan to value ratio at 75% of the value of gold.

The apex bank has left it to individual banks to decide on a lending cap. On December 30, the apex bank had restricted loans with a cap of $1,661 (Rs 100,000) against the pledge of gold ornaments and jewellery.

With many individuals pledging household gold ornaments to avail of personal loans, the aim is also to smoke out gold lying within homes and bank lockers across the country, said analysts.

This news item, filed from Mumbai, put in an appearance on the mineweb.com Internet site on Wednesday sometime---and it's worth skimming.

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Kalgoorlie's Golden Hotel Prices

Car dealers, doctors and now a hotel in Western Australia's Kalgoorlie are accepting payments of gold.

Weary travelers will be able to pay to rest their head at a hotel in the wild west Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie with gold.

Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort and Spa general manager Nicholas Parkinson-Bates said while the idea to allow people to pay for a room with the precious metal was inspired by the annual Diggers and Dealers mining conference in August, he was keen to extend the payment method for life.

This short gold-related news item was posted on The West Australian Web site yesterday at 6:16 p.m. local time 'down under'---and it found a home over at the au.news.yahoo.com Internet site.  I thank reader Michael Donovan for sliding it into my inbox yesterday morning.

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Jul 23, 2014

IRS Seeks Help Destroying Another 3,200 Hard Drives

Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.

The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.

Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.

The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.

Today's first story is from The Washington Times.  It was posted there on Monday sometime---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it.

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Wall Street Cut From Guest List for Jackson Hole Fed Meeting

Wall Street doesn’t lead to Jackson Hole this year.

As the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City prepares to host next month’s annual gathering of central bankers in Wyoming, seasoned Fed watchers from the financial markets, including the chief U.S. economists of the biggest American banks, aren’t being invited, according to past participants.

Among those who didn’t make the guest list: Vincent Reinhart of Morgan Stanley, Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Bank of America Corp.’s Ethan Harris. Onetime conference regulars, including Mickey Levy of Blenheim Capital Management LLC and Meredith Whitney of Kenbelle Capital LP, also lose out.

They’ll miss a conference that has foreshadowed some of the Fed’s biggest monetary-policy shifts since the financial crisis, and a keynote speech by Chair Janet Yellen. Perhaps as importantly, they also will be deprived of the opportunity to mingle with policy chiefs over meals and on mountain trails.

This longish Bloomberg piece, filed from London, was posted on their Internet site at 4:27 a.m. Denver time on Tuesday morning---and it's the first offering of the day from West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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Have Central Banks Been Breaking the Law?

The best way to destroy the capitalist system, the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin is reputed to have said, is to debauch the currency. The world’s major central banks have certainly been having a fair old go at it. In the six years since the financial crisis first broke, they’ve been printing money like there is no tomorrow.

Fortunately, they have not yet managed to bring down the free market system. On the other hand, they have succeeded in putting a rocket under asset prices and, in so doing, they have greatly exaggerated the wealth divide.

In a number of cases, including the U.S. and the U.K., they have also significantly assisted governments in financing burgeoning fiscal deficits. To the extent that quantitative easing (QE) has had any effect at all, it is asset prices and governments that have been the prime beneficiaries.

Where has Jeremy been all these years?  This is what central banking is all about.  This commentary was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Web site at 5:55 p.m. BST on their Monday afternoon---and I found the story embedded in a GATA release.  The link is here.

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Draghi Cedes Euro Control to Yellen on Fed Rate Wagers

Mario Draghi’s ambitions to weaken the euro are at the mercy of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

The U.S. central bank chief sent the euro sliding below $1.35 last week for the first time since February when she said U.S. interest rates may rise sooner than investors expect. Her European Central Bank peer is having less impact: Draghi’s unprecedented decision to drop a key interest rate to below zero last month pushed the shared currency up 0.2% before Yellen’s speech. The euro is also losing its link with the continent’s bond market, as its correlation to the yield spreads of Italy, Spain and Portugal approaches zero.

Dealers in euro-dollar, the world’s most-traded currency pair, say they’re increasingly influenced by the U.S. because they’ve assimilated the interest-rate cuts Draghi unveiled and concluded he has no further surprises in store. The prospect of a Fed rate boost is also deemed more important than the conflict in the Gaza Strip and international anger over the downing of a Malaysian airliner last week in Ukraine.

This is another Bloomberg story---and this one was filed from New York.  It was posted on their Internet site at 4:15 a.m. MDT yesterday---and it's the second offering of the day from Elliot Simon.

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Global Stock Markets at Risk from Black Swan Spike in Oil Price

Global stock markets are at risk from a spike in oil prices which could derail the fragile economic recovery and lead to a major correction in share prices, warns Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank.

Geopolitical risk has increased sharply following the events of last week, a point that has been largely ignored by the ever Panglossian global equity markets that march on upward---and it's at this point I'll hand over to the analysis by Mr Jakobsen:

"The simplest way to 'measure' geopolitical risk is to look at the price of energy. Energy is everything for a macro economist as it is a tax on the economy when high, and a discount when low.

"The way I measure this geopolitical risk is through measuring the spread between the fifthth contract of the WTI Crude and the first contract. Of course, there are other factor workings, but lacking a better alternative, it is what I use."

This article showed up on The Telegraph's website at 11:30 a.m. BST on Tuesday---and it's the first contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Bank of England Leads Push for Deposit Confiscation - Japan, China, Russia Against Bail-Ins

Bank of England officials led by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, are attempting to bridge sharp differences among leading G20 countries as they prepare a landmark set of proposals aimed at tackling the problem of “too big to fail” banks according to the Financial Times today.

Talks under the auspices of the global Financial Stability Board (FSB) over the summer are approaching a key stage as officials aim to clinch an agreement on bail-ins and the bailing in of creditors including depositors of banks.

Finance officials are hoping to pave the way for proposals to be tabled at the G20 leaders meeting at the Brisbane summit in November.

The issue is of major consequence to globally systemic lenders such as Citigroup, Barclays and BNP Paribas, as some will have to issue billions of dollars of fresh bonds earmarked to carry losses.

The issue is of major consequence also to depositors who could see their savings confiscated as happened in Cyprus.

This Zero Hedge piece was posted on their Web site at 4:38 a.m. EDT yesterday morning---and it's courtesy of South African reader B.V.

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France Sticks to Warship Sale to Russia Despite Calls for European Arms Embargo, Sanctions

France says it will go ahead with the sale of a warship to Russia despite calls for an arms embargo against the country, highlighting how Europe's strong business ties are hindering its ability to punish Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

Western powers say Russia is supporting the insurgents in eastern Ukraine who allegedly shot down a Malaysian Airliner last week, killing all 298 people on board.

European Union foreign ministers met Tuesday to consider more sanctions against Russia but agreed only to impose more asset freezes on individuals, leaving economic relations untouched.

Some countries, like Britain, argue the plane crash has raised the stakes and Europe should not go soft on Russia.

This CP/AP story from yesterday was picked up by the ca.news.yahoo.com Internet site.  I posted a story on this subject about 10 days ago, but there are new details added to this one---and I thank reader Doug Milne for sharing it with us.

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N.Y. Fed Slams Deutsche Bank (and Its €55 Trillion in Derivatives): Accuses it of "Significant Operational Risk"

First it was French BNP that was punished with a $9 billion legal fee after France refused to cancel the Mistral warship shipment to Russia (which promptly led to French National Bank head Christian Noyer to warn that the days of the USD as a reserve currency are numbered), and now moments ago, none other than the 150x-levered NY Fed tapped Angela Merkel on the shoulder with a polite reminder to vote "Yes" on the next, "Level-3" round of Russia sanctions when it revealed, via the WSJ, that "Deutsche Bank's giant U.S. operations suffer from a litany of serious problems, including shoddy financial reporting, inadequate auditing and oversight and weak technology systems."

What could possibly go wrong? Well... this. Recall that as we have shown for two years in a row, Deutsche has a total derivative exposure that amounts to €55 trillion or just about US$75 trillion. That's a trillion with a T, and is about 100 times greater than the €522 billion in deposits the bank has. It is also five times greater than the GDP of Europe and more or less the same as the GDP of...the world.

Well, dear reader, one wonders if the New York Fed has had a gander at JPMorgan's derivatives book recently?  This Zero Hedge piece was posted on their website yesterday sometime---and a lot earlier than the 8:41 p.m. dateline shown on the article, as Washington state reader S.A. sent it our way about five hours before that.  It's definitely worth reading.

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Developing Situation in Ukraine Unacceptable, Counterproductive, Destabilizing - Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that scenarios in the developing crisis in Ukraine are unacceptable, counterproductive and destabilizing the situation in the world.

“If we return to similar scenarios, as a whole, as I have already said, then this is absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive. This is destroying the modern world and order. Undoubtedly, such methods in regard to Russia won’t work,” Putin said during a Security Council meeting.

“Our people, our citizens of Russia won’t let that happen and they will never accept [this],” he said.

This short article appeared on the RIA Novosti Web site at 4:30 p.m. Moscow time yesterday afternoon---and it's another story from Roy Stephens.

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Russia to Respond Adequately to NATO Expansion - Putin

Moscow will respond adequately and equitably if NATO continues its military presence expansion closer to the Russian borders, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Russia will respond adequately and equitably to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure closer to the Russian borders and the ongoing buildup of NATO forces," Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Security Council.

He also said that Moscow clearly sees that NATO is demonstratively strengthening its presence in Eastern Europe.

Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March, the alliance has been systematically stepping up its presence near the Russian border, citing the need to protect its members from potential Russian aggression. Moscow has repeatedly expressed concerns over Western pressure on Russia.

This is another story from the RIA Novosti Web site.  This one put in an appearance at 6:03 p.m. Moscow time on Tuesday evening---and once again my thanks go out to Roy Stephens.

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Russia Vastly Outgunned in Economic Showdown with West

The economic showdown unfolding between Russia and the West is almost entirely one-sided.

The U.S. has the power to bring Russia to its knees through hegemonic control over the world’s banking system, using an array of lethal financial weapons developed by a cell at the U.S. Treasury, and already deployed against Iran and North Korea.

Richard Christopher Granville, from Trusted Sources, said the U.S. “crossed the Rubicon” last week even before the apparent missile strike against Malaysia Airlines flight 17, imposing sanctions that effectively shut the energy trio of Rosneft, Novatek, and Gazprombank out of international finance.

“The Americans have the power to throttle Russia unilaterally because no European or Western bank of any importance is going to defy the U.S. after the fines imposed on BNP Paribas,” he said.

Guilty until proved innocent.  This is typical of the anti-Russia swill that fills the main stream media in Britain and the U.S. these days---and I, for one, wouldn't want to predict the outcome of this because, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard so correctly points out, the hammer will fall on Europe the hardest.  This commentary appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 8:39 p.m. BST on Monday evening---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.   And the anti-Russia sentiment aside, it's definitely worth reading---especially in conjunction with that Zero Hedge piece on Deutsche Bank posted further up.

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Greek Sovereign Debt at 174.1 Percent of GDP in First Quarter

Eurozone public debt rose to 93.9% of economic output in the first quarter of this year, approaching the peak it is expected to reach later in 2014, official data showed on Tuesday.

Government debt of the 18 countries sharing the euro stood at 9.055 trillion euros ($12.21 trillion) in the first three months of this year, compared to 8.905 trillion euros in the last quarter of 2013, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said.

The EU's executive arm - the European Commission - expects the debt to peak at 96.0% of gross domestic product this year and then ease to 95.4% of GDP in 2015.

Nearly 80% of the bloc's debt is in bonds and treasury bills. Loans account for 17.9% of the debt.

Twice bailed-out Greece was the eurozone's most indebted country with sovereign debt of 174.1% of GDP, followed by the bloc's third-biggest economy Italy, with debt equivalent to 135.6% of GDP in the first quarter.

This short Reuters piece, filed from Brussels, showed up on the ekathimerini.com Internet site earlier this morning Athens time---and I thank reader Harry Grant for sliding it into my in-box just before 4 a.m. EDT this morning.  It's worth reading.

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Turkey's Erdogan: "I Stopped Talking to Obama"

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he ceased direct phone contact with US President Barack Obama once the U.S. backed away from use of military force against Syria last fall.

Erdogan, a supporter of rebel fighters opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, was upset, he said, that the United States did not follow through with military action against Damascus amid the fierce civil war there.

"In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can't get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other," Erdogan said Monday in an interview with the pro-government ATV channel.

"And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him.”

This news item was posted on the Russia Today Web site at 3:18 p.m. yesterday afternoon Moscow time, which was 7:18 a.m. in New York.  It's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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China Warns Against Politicizing Malaysian Boeing Crash Until Investigation Is Over

“Pending the outcome of the investigation, the parties should not speculate or prejudge, and most importantly we should not artificially politicize [the situation],” Wang Yi said in a statement published on the ministry’s website.

China’s Foreign Minister also welcomed the U.N. Security Council’s resolution adopted late Monday, which condemns the downing of the passenger plane, and called to implement it.

“The primary focus at the moment is to implement the resolution, in particular, to provide international investigators access to the site of the catastrophe for a full fledged investigation,” Wang Yi added.

Excellent advice!  Now there are two adults in the room.  This story, filed from Moscow, was posted on the RIA Novosti Web site at 4:46 p.m. Tuesday afternoon Moscow time---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Argentine Default in Balance as Government Refuses to Capitulate

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's unflinching poker face in the battle against "holdout" investors suing the country is increasing the odds that her government will default for a second time in 12 years at the end of this month.

She has refused to budge from her stance that Argentina cannot pay out in full to the holdout hedge funds, which snapped up bonds on the cheap after its $100 billion default in 2002. That is despite indirect talks aimed at cutting a deal.

Fernandez last week told leaders of the BRICS emerging economies that it was "impossible" to pay holdouts the full face value of the debt they hold. The funds, she said, could enter a bond swap matching the terms of restructuring deals in 2005 and 2010, which saw creditors accept large write-downs.

It is an old offer the holdouts have previously scoffed at and they have no reason to take it now given that U.S. courts have ruled in their favor and put Argentina, Latin America's No. 3 economy, on the verge of default.

This Reuters story, filed from Buenos Aires, put in an appearance on their Web site yesterday---and I thank reader D.W. Mong for sending it our way.

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Venezuela Admits Its Ever-Growing Dependency from China

Venezuela confirmed Monday that its relations with China have become a fundamental pillar for making progress in almost all sectors of its economy. With a new portfolio of accords and almost 5.7 billion in loans, Beijing will provide support in many key areas.

Facing China's Xi Jinping at the closing ceremony of the 13th bilateral Mixed Commission, President Nicolas Maduro told his Chinese counterpart that his visit of little more than 24 hours had “surpassed all expectations.”

Maduro and Xi closed the meeting having added a number of new pacts to the more than 500 already accumulated in their bilateral relations.

This article was posted on the mercopress.com Internet site early yesterday morning---and I thank Casey Research's own Louis James for passing it around.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Dr. Stephen Leeb: "Gold and Silver to Skyrocket as We Move to a New World Order"  2. KWN Special Feature: "Gold and Silver Set to Make History---Art Cashin---and 3 Great Charts"  3. Rick Rule: "A 2008-Style Event, Propaganda---and the $64 Billion Question"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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London Zinc Hits Three-Year High, Aluminium a 16-Month Peak

Zinc hit a three-year high and aluminium touched a 16-month peak on Tuesday as investors sought more exposure to commodities with tightening supply-demand balances and were encouraged by falling inventories and firm equity markets.

London Metal Exchange stocks of zinc fell by 400 tonnes to 656,275 tonnes, their lowest in 3-1/2 years, while aluminium stocks fell by 9,075 tonnes to 4.938 million tonnes, their lowest in nearly two years.

Investors are slowly being drawn back into commodities, attracted by stronger global economic growth and more volatility within some sectors, typified by current investment flows out of grains into industrial metals.

"There's a certain amount of relative value going on where investors prefer one metal over another," Macquarie analyst Vivian Lloyd said.

One wonders how much money would plow into silver if the big investors understood the real supply/demand fundamentals in silver.  But JPMorgan et al are doing a fine job of making sure that fundamentals are never reflected in the silver price---and the prices of the other three precious metals as well.  This Reuters story, filed from London, appeared on their Web site at 9:02 a.m. EDT yesterday---and my thanks go out to Elliot Simon for sending it our way.

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Credit Suisse to Exit Commodities, Posts Big Quarter Loss

Credit Suisse Group AG said it will abandon commodities trading as a $2.6 billion fine to settle a U.S. tax investigation pushed the Swiss bank to its biggest quarterly loss since 2008.

The bank’s net loss in the second quarter was 700 million Swiss francs ($779 million), compared with a profit of 1.05 billion francs a year earlier and a 691 million-franc estimate from analysts. Zurich-based Credit Suisse posted higher-than-forecast earnings at the investment bank and lower profit in wealth management even as it attracted more net new money from rich clients than analysts had estimated.

Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan is reporting a second quarterly loss in less than a year as Credit Suisse grapples with regulatory probes. Analysts and investors have said Credit Suisse should step up efforts to shrink its investment bank and focus on wealth management to boost returns and shore up capital eroded by the U.S. fine. The bank reaffirmed plans to cut at least 4.5 billion francs in annual costs by the end of next year compared with 2011.

Of course they're not going to "abandon" precious metals trading.  How can banks rig these markets if they can't trade them?  I would guess that Credit Suisse has a decent short position in the Comex precious metal market, but they're not a really big player.  This Bloomberg story, filed from Zurich, showed up on their Internet site at 5:29 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Tuesday---and I thank Elliot Simon for his final contribution to today's column.

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Hambro "Horrified" by Tampering of London Gold Fix

Peter Hambro, chairman of gold producer Petropavlovsk Plc, said he was "horrified" by the manipulation of the London fix given its importance to the industry.

"When I read the reports on what people had been doing to it, I was horrified," Hambro said in an interview today. "It is something that is really important to people in the industry. It's something that we use in a big way as we deliver our gold. That's how we price."

"To have something that we can rely on is vitally important," said Hambro, who previously traded bullion at Marc Rich Group and Mocatta & Goldsmid Ltd. "I look forward to its continuing existence."

Hambro is more than aware of the price management scheme in gold and the other precious metals, so his comments are certainly disingenuous---and that's being kind.  This short gold-related "news" item, filed from London,  showed up on the Bloomberg Web site in the wee hours of Tuesday morning Denver time---and I found it embedded in a GATA release.

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Lawrence Williams: Escalating Ukraine Crisis Could Blow Gold Sky High

It is thus perhaps a wonder that gold, as the safe haven of choice, is not flying far and away higher than it is at the moment---and the logic here is that it is indeed being held down by a bullion banking sector which could find itself in serious default if the gold price ran sky-high.  And if some of the analysts on the bullish side of the gold equation are correct in their assumptions that many Western central banks (with the approval of their governments whether they are deemed independent or not) have leased out much of their gold reserves, and that the banks to which they have leased them are in no position to return the bullion, then the proverbial could well be set to hit the fan as banks default in their commitments – should government allow that to happen!

This observer is thus more and more being drawn to the possibility of a big gold price escalation looming sooner rather than later, as opposed to the $1,050 year-end call being reiterated by the perhaps exposed banks like Goldman Sachs.  But this viewpoint is very much one’s own interpretation of what is going on in global geopolitics which itself is reliant on attempts to interpret the various media spin coming from  both sides and, as can be seen from the above commentary, this is no easy thing to do.  Who can one really believe in this day and age of political spin?

This very well-balanced commentary by Lawrie was posted on the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday---and it's definitely a must read.

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